If One of Us is Lying was like Breakfast Club, but with murder, then You’ll Be the Death of Me is Ferris Bueller’s Day off (also murder). This one also had (TINY SPOILERS) a cheerful, supportive coach character and a redhead with questionable judgement and a thing for his teacher, hence my review title. But, as usual, while McManus might start with an archetype, her characters are fleshed out and believable, with similar archetypes across different books each becoming their own people.
You’ll Be the Death of Me follows a group of three seniors who used to be friends (but they – haven’t thought of each other lately at all) in middle school before drifting apart. Ivy (type A), Cal (outcast artist), and Mateo (rebel, gold heart) end up ditching school for old times’ sake, but quickly stumble across the body of a classmate – who happened to have just beat Ivy in the election for president of student council. Of course, there’s a lot else going on (a large part of the plot hinges on the opioid epidemic, shallowly-explored afterschool-special type stuff), and everyone’s got a secret or two.
The mystery was pretty good – McManus definitely had me fooled until the end (could have sworn I was onto something, too) – if a bit of a strain on my suspension of disbelief. And everything was tied up into a much neater bow than was necessary. But the characters were good – believably prickly, misguided, kind-hearted, earnest teenaged ass-holes. It’s a quick, fun diversion, with some decent insights about friendship, and great pacing. Recommended if you like that sort of thing (especially if you’ve liked her other books), but nothing you need to worry about missing.
PS: We should all have a friend like Emily. She is low key the best character in this story.